Barcelona El Prat airport is a major international hub so there is sometimes the possibility that you may have to do a layover there between flights. The good news is that this airport offers some of the best connections to its adjoining city of any in Spain. The distance is just twelve kilometers, and even with waiting time, the bus or the train journey should not take more than forty minutes.
Once a Roman colony, this city is rich in both history and art and, of course, comes with that wonderful Spanish way of life that most people find so seductive. If you find yourself on a Barcelona layover there is little cause for despair. You will have literally dozens of options to keep you busy.
You don’t want to have to drag suitcases with you on your short layover and so using a Barcelona luggage storage service will free you to travel light and make the most of your stay.
6 hour Barcelona layover
Six hours isn't very long, and on top of this, you need to build in travel time to and from the city as well as allow time to clear security and reboard your flight. That means you are going to need to think carefully about just what you decide to do on your Barcelona Airport layover.
The bus journey to the city center takes about the same amount of time as the train does but will offer better views so this might be your best bet, at least for one leg of the journey.
Without a doubt, one of the highlights of any visit to Barcelona would be to tour the Sagrada Familia. Designed by famed architect Antoni Gaudi, this massive and awe-inspiring cathedral is actually still under construction. That doesn’t prevent it from attracting millions of tourists each year.
You will need to book in advance for this one as the lines of people trying to get in could easily make you miss your flight. With a ticket already in hand, you skip the line and dive straight into this incredible architectural masterpiece.
- Don’t even attempt to explore Barcelona with luggage. Drop your larger bags at a Barcelona Airport luggage storage service.
- Both train and bus services offer easy access to the downtown area.
- Sagrada Familia is an iconic emblem of this city, but you should have tickets in advance if you are on a short stopover.
8 hour Barcelona layover
Eight hours gives you a little more time to explore Barcelona. Still, you’ll want to stay close to the center of the action. Just a couple of blocks from the Cathedral, you’ll find the quirky and iconic Balcons de Barcelona. This impressive mural shows a balcony painted onto a building with some famous Barcelona residents looking out over the street, including Gaudi himself. The realistic painting may take you in at first, and it’s a great place for a quick stop and a photo opportunity without having to travel too far in the city. You’ll only need 10 or 15 minutes to get your photos, which gives you more time to spend at Sagrada Familia. Or you could spend the extra time grabbing some to eat in one of the many nearby restaurants.
- Take a short walk to see the unique mural of Balcons de Barcelona.
- See some of Barcelona’s most famous historic residents painted on the side of the building and get a unique photo opportunity.
10 hour Barcelona layover
A 10-hour layover means that you will have more time to experience this fabulous city, but planning ahead will allow you to make the most of your visit, even on a long layover.
This is a city that reveals itself best as you walk it. One of the many options you have is to visit a market, and La Boqueria is one of the biggest in the city. Started in 1836, this market unashamedly describes itself as the ‘best in the world’, and while that may be a controversial statement, it certainly is impressive.
There are over two hundred stands, and wandering through them offers you a great insight into Spanish life and culture. There are few better places to grab a bite to eat and with the Spanish love of tapas, you are able to sample different delicacies without needing to commit to a single dish.
After that, wander up Las Ramblas which is the main pedestrianized street dissecting the city. Here, you will see street performers and artists while walking beneath a cool canopy of tree branches. At the top of this walk, you enter the Gothic Quarter with narrow medieval streets filled with bars, coffee shops, and boutiques.
- Walking through Barcelona allows you to soak up some of the local ambience.
- La Boqueria market is bustling with activity that is uniquely Spanish.
- Don’t get totally carried away and lose track of time. You don’t want to miss your connection.
12 hour Barcelona layover
With more time now available, you can start to think about throwing in a few more sights. The Museu Nacional de Art offers art for all tastes dating back to Romanesque right through to more contemporary works. The Picasso Museum is another must-see for anyone with an artistic bent.
If art and museums don’t float your boat, then how about a trip to the beach? Easily walkable, you can reach the beach to see and experience a slightly different side of Barcelona. Once there, you can take a rickshaw tour, hire a Segway, or just continue to explore on foot. It is rare for the weather in Barcelona not to be beach weather.
Barceloneta was once a fishing village that has now been reached by the expansion of the city. It is only ten minutes’ walk away but allows you to get a feel for that village way of life where washing hangs to dry above the streets and old people sit on benches to gossip and pass the day.
- The city abounds in museums and galleries, so you won’t have trouble finding one that matches your tastes.
- Much of the city and even the beachfront can be reached on foot, though taxis are cheap if you would rather ride.
24 hour layover in Barcelona
With an overnight layover in this city, you are able to experience the nightlife on offer, and the Spanish know how to do nightlife. The first thing you will need to grasp is that a night out in Spain doesn't really start until after ten. Even that is considered a touch on the early side.
Hitting the streets late at night may not be what you are used to but you will find that they are buzzing. There will be so much going on that you will need to choose carefully. You could just wander and snatch some tapas and sangria at whatever bar or restaurant catches your eye.
On the other hand, in the summer months, outdoor cinema is common and it won’t take you long to find a flamenco show at one of the local restaurants. If all of those options seem a little on the casual side, put on something smart and take in an opera. Liceu Theatre was once the largest theatre in all of Europe, and it offers a year-round program of concerts and alternative theatre performances. The interior is as opulent as one would expect from an opera house with such a famous pedigree.
- Nightlife in Barcelona is varied and dynamic, but it kicks off late.
- Dining, dancing, or taking in a show are all on the cards but remember you may need to get up early to continue your journey.